San Diego Conquistiadors
1972/73: After the Pittsburgh Condors and Floridians folded, the ABA was left with nine teams, wanting to stay a viable league with at least ten teams, the league awarded an expansion team to play in San Diego, who had recently seen the Rockets, who was their NBA team blast off for Houston. The team which would be named the Conquistadors was owned by Dentist Dr. Leonard Bloom, president of the United States Capital Corporation, who paid a $1 million entry fee. The Conquistadors also called the Q’s would be the only expansion team in the ABA’s nine seasons In a special expansion draft the Conquistadors selected Red Robbins from the Utah Stars, Gene Moore and Ollie Taylor from the New York Nets, Stew Johnson & Larry Miller from the Carolina Cougars, and Chuck Williams from the Denver Rockets. One problem the Q’s had in their first season was finding a home, as a feud between Leonard Bloom and Peter Graham, manager of the city-owned San Diego Sports Arena left them locked out of San Diego’s best facility. Playing their home games in Peterson Gym on the campus of San Diego State, the Q’s who were coached by K.C. Jones faced the Denver Rockets in their first game on October 12th, losing 109-100. However, they would win their next five games, as they played nine of their first ten games at home. As it began to even out the Conquistadors began to resemble an expansion team, as the endured a ten game losing streak and a nine game losing streak. Despite it all the Conquistadors still managed to slip into the playoffs, as the finished in fourth place with a record of 30-54. The Q’s would make a quick exit from the playoffs as they were swept by the Utah Stars.
1973/74: Heading into their second season, the Conquistadors attempted to shake the world of basketball as the signed Superstar Center Wilt Chamberlain to be a player/coach. However, the Los Angeles Lakers sued to block him from playing, leaving him on the bench as a sideshow. Though listed as head coach most of the team’s decision making was done by Stan Albeck who would fill in several times as Wilt Chamberlain concetrated on more lucrative ventures, including on one occassion an autograph show. Despite the addition of Chamberlain, the Conquistadors remained locked out of San Diego Arena, this year they were forced to play in a local ballroom called Golde Hall. Despite not having Wilt Chamberlain on the court, the Q’s showed improvement, posting a record of 37-47 as they again slipped into the playoffs by finishing in fourth place. In the playoffs they would face the Utah Stars again, losing the first two games on the road. However, they would win the next two games at Golden Hall, both of which were won in the final seconds, to even the series. The Stars would win Game 5 as the elemenated the Q’s in six games.
1974/75: In their third season, the Conquistadors finally got access to play in the San Diego Sports Arena, but with Wilt Chamberlain’s departure fan interest was scarce at best. It would be a tough season for the Q’s who would miss the playoffs for the first time as they finished in last place with a record of 31-53. Things got so bad that the league assumed operation of the franchise as they were one of a number of ABA teams teetering on the financial cliff.
1975/76: Heading into season number four, the entire ABA was in financial peril. Hoping to save the franchise, Frank Goldberg who once owned the Denver Rockets took over in San Diego and gave the franchise a complete overhaul. The team would be renamed San Diego Sails, with a blue and green color scheme in honor of the Southern California sailing community. However, the launch of the Sails would quickly fail as they had a disappointing crowd of 3,080 on hand as they lost their season opener at home to the Denver Nuggets 120-108. Prior to the start of the season, the Baltimore Claws who had moved from Memphis folded before even playing their first official game. With the Claws demise, teams in the ABA began talking to the NBA with the hopes of a merger. However, Jack Kent Cooke Owner of the Los Angeles Lakers let it be known he would not allow the Sails into the league. With attendance dwindling the Sails would quickly sink into oblivion, as Owner Frank Goldberg decided to fold the team on November 12th. The Sails final game was three days earlier on the road against the Spirits of St. Louis, a game they would lose 95-92. San Diego would be home of the NBA again in 1979 as the Buffalo Braves became the San Diego Clippers.
©MMXII Tank Productions. Stats researched by Frank Fleming, all information, and team names are property of the American Basketball Association. This site is not affiliated with the San Diego Conquistadors or the ABA. This site is maintained for research purposes only. All logos used on this page were from Chris Creamer’s Sports Logos Page.
Page created on July 29, 2012. Last updated on July 29, 2012 at 2:30 am ET.